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China vows to curb technology firms’ influence on governments

China vowed to curb the influence of tech companies on governments as part of a sweeping statement reaffirming the party’s vow to break the ties between money and power in a range of industries.

In a communique released following the plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s top anti-graft group, the government said it wouldn’t relent on political factions and interest groups within the party and will zoom in on corruption underpinning the disorderly expansion of capital and monopolies, state news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday.

While the pledge to renew the government’s anti-corruption campaign also targets state-owned enterprises and the financial sector, it is more bad news for the nation’s tech giants, which have been grappling with Beijing’s tightened regulations on areas ranging from digital finance and data security to online games and overseas listings. Earlier this week, Reuters reported that China’s Internet overseer would require tech companies to seek approval before making investments or raising funds. The Cyberspace Administration of China said the reports were untrue.

Targeting corruption in all aspects of society comes as President Xi Jinping seeks to secure an unprecedented third term as China’s paramount leader at a key Communist Party summit later this year. Beijing has mounted an ever-expanding effort to crack down on sectors ranging from technology and education to properties and tax evasion by popular live-streaming influencers. Xi has also laid out a vision for common prosperity to redistribute wealth among China’s 1.4 billion people in response to the yawning wealth gap that threatens to stoke social unrest.

The China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection placed the chairman of China Life Insurance Co under investigation in a surprise move earlier this month, with a nationwide anti-corruption crackdown focusing on financial institutions and regulators netting more than 20 officials since its start in October as authorities step up scrutiny of the nation’s US$54 trillion (RM226 trillion) financial system. – Bloomberg

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